Megaupload programmer arrested in the US

The arrest was a surprise since the programmer was believed to have been in the Netherlands

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has avoided extradition to the U.S. on copyright infringement charges, but one of his lieutenants may have turned himself in there yesterday.

Andrus Nomm, once head of software development for the now-defunct online file storage service, was arrested on Tuesday, according to an executed arrest warrant filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Nomm developed new projects, tested code and provided routine maintenance for some of Megaupload's sites.

U.S. officials shut Megaupload down in January 2012, and indicted Nomm and six others accused of running it on charges of copyright infringement, racketeering, money laundering and wire fraud. Nomm, a citizen of Estonia and a resident of Turkey and Estonia, is accused of watching at least one copyrighted episode of a TV series and is said to have received over $100,000 from Megaupload in 2010, according to the indictment in the case.

Nomm's arrest in the U.S. came as a surprise to Dotcom's lawyer Ira Rothken, who believed he was still in the Netherlands awaiting an extradition hearing following his arrest there in 2012. Rothken thinks Nomm agreed to go to the U.S. because he ran out of money, he told the New Zealand Herald.

Nomm is the first of the seven accused of running the file sharing service to be arrested in the U.S. His arrest there fueled speculation he has cut a deal and will be willing to testify against Dotcom.

Dotcom, who is awaiting a hearing scheduled in June about his possible extradition to the U.S., took to Twitter saying: "Andrus Nomm has been through hell in the last 3 years, just like all of us. I wish him only the best."

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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